20 August 2016

Research Data Things 19/23 - Exploring APIs and Apps

I viewed the list of apps for gathering research data suggested in thing 19.

It struck me that mostly these are just online forms which have been around for years, often marketed for integration into websites for all sorts of purposes. I use wufoo as a contact form on this blog. It is another that could be used to build an online form. Google forms is another option. It really depends if the research requires something specific to choose amongst the many options.

Specifics needs for research as opposed to many general website forms might be:

  • ability to attach a file to the form data eg. photo, or audio recording
  • ability to complete the form multiple times while offline and then submit the data when internet/network access is available
Another valuable app for integrating web services is IFTTT. This enables users to set up a series of steps to push data, images, social media to other web services. This is definitely worth looking at for those doing research into social media (but should also be considered for other types of research too). A 'recipe' could be created to poll Twitter and Instagram for a hashtag and then make a record in a Google spreadsheet everytime a post matches the criteria.

10 August 2016

Research Data Things 18/23 - Data interviews

Thing 18

research data plan by anonymous (actually that's me but too lazy to register).

In this thing we are asked to think about supporting researchers through interviews and conversations, specifically to pick something in the example data curation profile cited.where the researcher appears to need some support. 

"The researcher does not seem to have any specific documentation practices in place regarding the description or organization of the data."

Offer to assist with or provide advice on:
  • Developing a file naming convention
  • Planning a folder structure/hierarchy
  • Managing versions of files
  • Finding metadata schemas that may be applicable for this type of research
  • Research data applications such as Nvivo for managing relationships between files and describing them
  • Managing backups/redundancy - in this example it appears that there may be limited access to internet during fieldwork so some thought needs to go into redundancy planning without continuous access to cloud or institutional networks
Some useful links:

There are several uses for data curation profiles. I think the most important one is to "provides a means for a researcher or a research group to thoughtfully consider their needs for their data beyond its immediate use" -- Carlson, Jake, "The Data Curation Profiles Toolkit: User Guide" (2010). Data Curation Profiles Toolkit. Paper 1. http://dx.doi.org/10.5703/1288284315650

There is a risk that the way the profile is written (tone and perspective) may detract from this goal. If the librarian/archivist writes up the profile from their own perspective it may be seen as to judgmental or tangential to the research goals by the researchers themselves. Also the relationship between a profile and a research data management plan seems to be overlapping.  

It is difficult when there is such a wide variation in the amount of support required by researchers. An interview with a higher degree research student or early career researcher may need to be much more focussed on developing a plan, whereas an interview with experienced researchers may be focussed more on the services needed for deposit in the repository and metadata records. 

3 August 2016

Research Data Things 17/23 - Data literacy and outreach

Comparing data literacy definitions for various groups.

Group Definition
LibraryInformation literacy and data management, where information literacy focuses on statistics, and data management on organizational skills needed to create, process, and preserve original data sets. -- Databrarians
Entrepreneurs The ability to find insights within data, and then take action based on those findings. -- Forbes
Political Science Ability to use data analysis to answer questions in modern political debates such as sources of voting behavior, the correlates of war, the determinants of development, political economy, psychology, institutions, and conflict -- Data Literacy and Data Visualization course by The Ohio State University
Writing and Journalism"data-literacy is the ability to consume for knowledge, produce coherently and think critically about data. Data literacy includes statistical literacy but also understanding how to work with large data sets, how they were produced, how to connect various data sets and how to interpret them." -- Data Journalism Handbook
Teachers and Students "Being able to read a chart or graph and being able to critique it....  A component of data literacy is to be able to develop an argument with it" -- Sarah Williams, MIT 
Citizens How to interact with big data and understand the possibilities it holds. Analyze data. With a focus on participatory government as a right. -- Camilla Monckton, Voices from Eurasia blog. 

Thing 17 asks us how we can build universal data literacy if we have such diverse needs. These of course are cherry picked definitions and not all librarians would agree with the statement that the focus is a narrower position of statistical literacy (indeed any of those groups may debate the specifics). But let's continue anyway.

While there is diversity in how data literacy is applied by different groups, the core need is similar.
  • Obtain and analyse data to answer questions for problem solving and decision-making. 
The challenge is to define a core set of skills (and technologies) and then build on that to meet needs by various groups and develop expertise in specialist areas and with specialist technologies.

Both the library and the journalism definitions add something more than the other definitions. The library works towards preservation and management of data sets for future, unknown applications of  the data. The journalism definition refers to connecting various data sets - it shows the value of the work libraries undertake in managing data sets for future unknown uses.

19 July 2016

Research Data Things 16/23 - Publisher and Funder Perspectives

In this thing we are asked to look up a journal to find out what's policy is in relation to research data.

I looked up the Australian Library Journal as it is one I have an article published in, and I didn't remember anything about data publishing recommendations at the time...